Earlier today, news broke that free agent lefty reliever J.P. Howell signed a one-year dealwith the Los Angeles Dodgers. The deal contains a $2.85M base salary along with $1.2M in performance bonuses.
The major piece of news here is that Howell, who the Nationals had reportedly made a priority, is no longer available. He was a perfect fit for their bullpen, which currently has only one lefty, and it is disappointing to see the Nats get outbid on such a small deal. The Nats will now likely have to rely on Zach Duke as their only lefty, although Bill Ladson is reporting that minor league free agent addition Bill Bray could be offered the opportunity to become the second left-handed pitcher in the pen. In any event, the lefty situation for the Nationals is not good, but the team has many righties that it is comfortable using to face lefty batters, including Tyler Clippard, against whom lefties have hit .170, even better than his .239 opponent average against right-handed batters.
While the Nats may not have many lefties, they are comfortable in their bullpen’s ability to get out left-handed batters, whether their pitcher is left-handed or not.